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 Learning Math With Manipulatives - Base Ten Blocks (Part III) Posted On 11/04/2011 00:44:28 by Chahaat

In the first two parts, representing, adding, and subtracting numbers using base ten blocks were explained. The use of base ten blocks gives students an effective tool that they can touch and manipulate to solve math questions. Not only are base ten blocks effective at solving math questions, they teach students important steps and skills that translate directly into paper and pencil methods of solving math questions. Students who first use base ten blocks develop a stronger conceptual understanding of place value, addition, subtraction, and other math skills. Because of their benefit to the math development of young people, educators have looked for other applications involving base ten blocks. In this article, a variety of other applications will be explained.

Multiplying One- and Two-Digit Numbers

One common way of teaching multiplication is to create a rectangle where the two factors become the two dimensions of a rectangle. This is easily accomplished using graph paper. Imagine the question 7 x 6. Students colour or shade a rectangle seven squares wide and six squares long; then they count the number of squares in their rectangle to find the product of 7 x 6. With base ten blocks, the process is essentially the same except students are able to touch and manipulate real objects which many educators say has a greater effect on a student's ability to understand the concept. In the example, 5 x 8, students create a rectangle 5 cubes wide by 8 cubes long, and they count the number of cubes in the rectangle to find the product.

Multiplying two-digit numbers is slightly more complicated, but it can be learned fairly quickly. If both factors in the multiplication question are two-digit numbers, the flats, the rods, and the cubes might all be used. In the case of two-digit multiplication, the flats and the rods just quicken the procedure; the multiplication could be accomplished with just cubes. The procedure is the same as for one-digit multiplication - the student creates a rectangle using the two factors as the dimensions of the rectangle. Once they have built the rectangle, they count the number of units in the rectangle to find the product. Consider the multiplication, 54 x 25. The student needs to create a rectangle 54 cubes wide by 25 cubes long. Since that might take a while, the student can use a shortcut. A flat is simply 100 cubes, and a rod is simply 10 cubes, so the student builds the rectangle filling in the large areas with flats and rods. In its most efficient form, the rectangle for 54 x 25 is 5 flats and four rods in width (the rods are arranged vertically), and 2 flats and five rods in length (with the rods arranged horizontally). The rectangle is filled in with flats, rods, and cubes. In the whole rectangle, there are 10 flats, 33 rods, and 20 cubes. Using the values for each base ten block, there is a total of (10 x 100) + (33 x 10) + (20 x 1) = 1350 cubes in the rectangle. Students can count each type of base ten block separately and add them up.

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